Repurposed Book Purses by Susan Temple

Here ya go! Aren't these little purses made from recycled books just marvelous? I find them so unique; lovely as well as useful, especially when you consider these purses keep fewer trees from being lost to a landfill. Let me introduce you to Susan Temple, owner of Smart Designing, a little shop on Etsy that's filled with these perfectly useful covers. (Find out more about each purse shown by clicking on them to see their shop listings) ~angee

1. Repurposed Illustrator Directory
miniVIEW of The Purse Maker

~ Susan, tell us a little about your creative self.

I am a Graphic Designer by profession for over 25 years. I design marketing materials for all sorts of clients including banks, hospitals, even a WNBA team, and I love my job. I always knew I would do something creative. When I was young I wanted to be the person who illustrated the sewing pattern catalogs! The ladies at the fabric shop would save the out dated catalogs for me and I would draw the pictures over and over. So began my love of fashion! I learned to sew when I was 13 and I made all my clothes for years. I made coats, suits, even a bathing suit once. I love to hand make! The satisfaction of saying I made that, the choosing of the materials, the creative process, it’s all therapy for me.

I’ve sold things that I’ve made on occasion, but nothing I made was ever accessible enough to market. My father was always on me about selling my crafts but it’s really hard to make any money from crafting. You have to work super fast with materials that don’t cost a fortune to be able to meet a price point people can afford.

2. Great Expectations... Navy Blue Repurposed Purse - Outside and Inside

My book purses were the one thing that put me where I could make a modest profit and put out an affordable product. But the best thing about any craft is the enjoyment of doing it and I really enjoy making the purses. It marries all my skills as a graphic designer and crafter in one unique item. Plus my love for books! If there is one thing I am guilty of it is I WILL judge a book by its cover. As a graphic designer I just can’t help it!

~So, what inspired your making purses from book covers as an art form?

I was inspired to create my first book purse by my sister, who is an avid reader and aspiring writer. For her birthday her husband was going to give her a Kindle. My thought was-- what a perfect way of transporting a Kindle, in a purse made from a book cover! I had cut an article about how to make book purses out of a magazine awhile ago and then I had reason to teach myself. I gave her the purse as a gift and she loved it. Her reaction made me decide to make a few more, just for myself. But then an obsession was born!
3.Stephen King Repurposed Book Purse

~What are your favorite book purse making materials?

I hunt for books in used book stores, salvation army depots, yard and tag sales. I screech to a halt if I see a pile of books by a trash bin! The hunt of it is fun, and when you find a perfect and unique book, it’s a joy. When that happens I am almost jumping out of my skin to make it into a purse. I never, ever use new books because I respect the original intent of a book. It’s meant to be read and cherished. But after that, why should it sit on a shelf collecting dust? However, rare and first edition books are also a no-no in my book (pun intended). Those are special and should remain intact. There are some gorgeous old readers I found that would make incredible purses, but no way. They need to remain intact as a reminder of our heritage.

The second material would be the fabric, which is just as much fun to hunt down. I walk into the fabric store armed with a bag full of gutted books and begin to find the perfect fabric to compliment them. I can get absolutely giddy when I find a fabric that is perfect, like I won the lottery or something! Then I match a handle, button for closure and ribbon for attachments and we are off to the races.

~Let us in on your particular personal creative process.

My creative process is Zen like... I get into a groove and before I know it hours have passed and I hardly knew it. I set things up to flow for each purse, I only work on one at a time, start to finish. I’ve never left a purse half made either, once I begin the building of it I finish it. I have a little transistor radio that I put on NPR and just zone out. I am incredibly lucky that I have a ‘craft room’. I live with my husband and two dogs in small three bedroom colonial. One of those bedrooms is my ‘office/craft room’. I am also extremely lucky that my husband is a very talented cabinet maker. I had a craft cabinet that was about 28 years old and it was literally falling apart. This past winter he recreated (and improved on) a new cabinet for me. And come to think of it, having that new cabinet gave me the space and comfort to really explore my craft. I am very blessed.

4. To Dance-Valery Panov - Perfect "little black bag"

~ What advice have you uncovered on your own artistic journey?

I think the best thing I learned about this particular journey is to over come my fears. I worried that people wouldn’t like my purses, or they wouldn’t be good enough. I really had to move through that in order to set up my Etsy shop. My friends and family are incredibly supportive with their advice and compliments, which really helped. I would say this-- do what you love. If you love it, and that’s all you get out of it, then you are far ahead in the game. That’s my advice... Oh and always keep a bowl of ice water on your craft table when using a glue gun! Happy crafting.

Visit Susan Temple's Etsy shop and see all of her fun creations: http://www.smartdesigning.etsy.com

Thanks for sharing with us Susan. It was great fun to find out about your unique creations. Now, I'm off to finish my book so maybe I can have it made into a purse!


♥ Meet Cartoonist Winston Rowntree

If you're creative in any form you'll certainly find yourself somewhere on this humorously true, penned and colored path. Have a look-see at this fun web cartoon "The Creative Process" from the webcomic, Subnormality and then learn about its author-artist Winston Rowntree. ~ angee

A *MiniView of Cartoonist Winston Rowntree

Welcome to Creative-Class Winston, and thanks for sharing your talent. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and over the last few years I've been gradually trying to get to a place where I can make a living doing comics online. I'm not there yet, but my webcomic, Subnormality, has built a pretty great audience and I've got more than enough motivation to keep going and see how far I can take this.

How long have you been drawing to get to such a great style?

I've been drawing since I was a kid, and have wanted to be a comics professional my whole life (though I lost sight of that dream temporarily when I was in school). I've only been taking my art seriously for the last seven years or so, which is why I'm not that great of an artist for someone who's always loved to make comics, but I'm improving all the time and am pretty happy about how far I've come recently. Practice really is everything; one small step after another and eventually you have skills you never could have imagined yourself having (as well as a sense of pride and the confidence that comes with it).

Is this cartoon based on your personal creative process?

This particular comic is most certainly based on my personal creative process, though I seldom take the confidence shortcut and most often end up circling the overthinking cloverleaf endlessly. Mapping it out visually like that really was a big help though, and I'm feeling a lot better about my process recently. Acknowledging your weaknesses is essential to personal growth, and it's one thing I try to do in a lot of my work, not just this comic. There's definitely a lot of catharsis in what I do, though I do try to at least dress it up a little so it's interesting to an audience!

What inspires your cartoons/comix and where do your ideas come from?

Beyond the desire to address personal issues, I'm also hugely motivated to communicate various ideas to others, though in a relatively open-ended way as opposed to just ranting at the world. With some comics I want to convey a certain idea, with some I want to kind of take note of a personal issue, and with some I just want to tell a stupid joke or draw a particular thing and then create a little scene around it. In that context, ideas come from literally anywhere.

"If you keep your motivations relatively simple--a desire to say something about the world around you--then the possibilities are limitless for what you can do." W. Rowntree

My best ideas come not from when I'm deliberately thinking of a concept for a comic, they come from when I'm considering some issue or other that maybe I've read about or something. In the course of that pondering, something interesting emerges that I reflexively realize I can visualize in some way in a comic strip. The key is just to always have that reflex ready--to always be ready to seize on something interesting that might emerge over the course of your mental wanderings. Ideas are everywhere, and if you're always ready to catch them then you're good to go.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know a little about Cartoonist Winston Rowntree, and found your personal creative path while traveling through his Creative Process cartoon. Be forewarned... some of his cartoons contain adult material not suitable for young children.

Find more of Winston Rowntree's cartoons here:

*MiniViews are short artist/artisan interviews


Resin Techniques

Here's some great information from Chris at Flowers For Real Jewelry who uses real pressed flowers embedded in resin to make some lovely jewelry.

I hope others will find this information useful for crafting with resin.

Everyone has their favorite resin; mine is Rio Grande Colores Doming Resin. Also I use Envirotech Lite, although it hardens a lot faster and I don't like to be rushed. I thought I'd include a few recent notes I've made for myself.

1. If I don't have the patience today, I'm jumpy or grouchy or tired, I put it off. Pouring, stirring and babysitting the resin takes a lot of time and care. I allow a 2 hour period for a pour.

2. I use magnifying glasses right before I put a clear cover over my new pours. I find lots of little things I would have otherwise missed.

3. My favorite tools are makeup sponge applicators to soak up extra resin on the edges, and microbrushes for spreading resin from the center to the edges.

4. I can't use Elmer's glue or ModPodge with resin and most pressed flowers; it discolors the flowers.

5. I always use a cheap wooden turntable (from Walmart) covered with waxed paper; I ALWAYS check and adjust the level before I pour. Saves a heck of a lot of frustration.

6. Once I've checked everything with my magnifying glasses, I cover stuff with a clear cover (came on a cake) and I leave it alone until morning. If I go in and try to "fix" things I end up ruining 2 or 3 pieces.

7. I put a backing of clear packing tape on everything before I pour resin. Then I only have to clean the edges if the resin overflows the piece.

8. I keep a straw handy to gently blow any bubbles on the surface of the resin once its poured.

Find many more of these beautiful treasures made with real pressed flowers embedded in resin at ... www.etsy.com/shop/FlowersForRealJewelr

Thanks to Chris for sharing her great techniques. I'm sure they will be very helpful to those just starting out using resin. If you enjoyed this post, let Chris know by leaving a comment.


♥ Meet Artist Robert Foster

I found Robert Foster's art talent on Etsy.com looking for items to complete a collection. I included him in the following Etsy Treasury. What a fun fit when you find his sweet piece "Eensy Weensy" in the context of this dark, contemplative treasury collection. See it here.

Consequently, I had to learn more about him, so I asked for an interview and he agreed. While researching for this interview I had a great time filtering through many of his pieces. He has a recognizable style, and a large body of work in a variety of moods. After you read the interview and get to know him a little, make sure to visit and browse his website found at the end. You'll enjoy meeting him as much as I did. ~ angee

Meet Artist Robert "Lew" Foster
Sierra Foothills, California

After looking through the majority of your work, I am amazed. Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed and share a little about yourself with our readers. Please tell us how you began your interest, or should I say, career in art.

I studied fine art application and commercial illustration at the Academy of Art in San Francisco for four years and for the next 25 years have made a rewarding living selling my paintings and prints in galleries and showings around the country. I have won numerous awards and ribbons during that time and have shown my work in many exhibitions. I still have a one man showing that occurs in the fall here in the Sierra Foothills.

Purchase this print in Robert Foster's Etsy Shop ~ www.lewfoster.etsy.com

It's encouraging for beginning artists to learn they can earn a living from their artwork. "Eensy Weensy" from your Etsy shop, is the piece that drew me to look closer at your work. It's a very captivating painting. Do you only paint, or are there other mediums you work in as well?

My mediums are many. I work with oil on both canvas and masonite board, some acrylic, charcoal pencil and pen and ink. I work alot in gouache opaque watercolor and in gouache watercolor with digital enhancements. Also, on occasion, adding photographic elements to some of my work. Finally I have a few pure digital art pieces that I'm quite proud of.

We all know the saying "A picture's worth a thousand words." Your work speaks volumes! There is such a comforting, dreamy style to all of your pieces. Developing your own artistic style is something that takes much practice. Did you work toward a certain style or find it had developed over the years as you continued to practice?

I have always found that my main goal in creating art is to provide a mood that bonds with the viewer. I love the romantic side of life and a bit of the humorous as well. Many things came into play in the creative process to attain mood in my work. I found that light and shadow were essential and could be used in a very dramatic way. I tried to keep my work on the realistic side of the spectrum and let the actual scene play out for what it is.

As I matured in my art, I learned new techniques that allowed me to enhance and illustrate the meaning of mood. I find that I am doing very much what I began doing, except that I've learned new and more efficient ways to present it.

If you would, do share a tip or piece of advice you have uncovered on your artistic journey that would be an encouragement or help to those who want to pursue their creative talents.

I believe you must first be honest enough to say whether you are totally going to paint for yourself or for others. If the joy of art can be found in personal satisfaction you will have no problems, other than the rendering of your work.

We all have an inner directors soul and it whispers to us to create this and to do it a certain way. The problem comes in when the whispered idea is difficult to retrieve, because we can't render it the way we felt it. If you are pleased with your work, there will always be others who feel the same way, even if they may be small in numbers.

If you want to paint for others and to do it for monetary gain you will need to discover what a large percentage of them want in art. It's always nice when you can negotiate a middle ground between your inner desire to create and what the public might want to purchase.

Finally... I would say you do have bragging rights. So, what was the most impressive or important honor your art career has brought you.

I have won a few awards and have had my work shown in nice galleries, but by far the most impressive thing my love for art has brought to me is a source of income that has supported my family for many years. In the beginning, I had strong doubts it could be done. To be able to do what you want and need to do in this life and then to be paid for it is a marvelous gift.

Thank you again for sharing a little of your talent with us. Here's wishing you abundant creative inspiration, and continued success.

You are very welcome and thank you. I appreciate you and your kind interest in my work.
Find more expressions of Robert Foster's art talent here:
Robert Foster Art.turnpiece.net <> Lew Foster.etsy.com


Gearing Up

We're inviting our favorite Etsy artisans for interviews! Woohoo! Let's get this awesome blog up and rolling, with up and coming talented creativity.

Look for and follow our artist/artisan interviews. We'll be gathering info and choosing some accomplished artisans who work in exciting mediums. They'll be sharing their talents and a few tips and tricks of the trade.

Have a look at each of the artisans below and visit their Etsy shops. See the entire full treasury filled with gorgeous red glass items. Some are painted, some are crafted, some are vintage, and they are all unique.

RED GLASS BABY... curated by AngeeArt
1. Barton Degraaf: "Evolution 3"
2. Beadz 2 Pleaz: Beaded Wedding Cake Knife
3. Squid Glass: Red Geisha Glass Pendant
4. Chic Baby Rose: Newborn Petti Romper~Red



♥ A variety of original artworks, inspirations for them, and other artists I admire and learn from. From time to time we'll talk technique, examine mediums, product photos, and feature interesting new handmade items.

Featured Artisan Interviews:
A look/see at exceptional artisans and their handmade works in various mediums. Look for and follow the ARTiculations posts on a regular basis to get tips, tricks, and techniques from featured artisan interviews.
"DoIt" Monthly creative projects with material lists and photo instruction. (i.e. How to Make Bread Clay )
The Treasured Hand : A Treasury collection of Artisans that have online shops.
KICKOFF ::: Artisan Ads... Get Two Weeks Free! (See How)

This is going to be fun!